Worries raised about U.S. vaccine stockpile

While the United States does have vaccines that were not available in 2001 for counteracting bioterrorism, worries remain about a lack of treatments for agents on the worry list, including a long-promised next-generation anthrax vaccine.
The major concern is over the stockpile of countermeasures that could treat everyone in the country. There is enough smallpox vaccine for everyone and there are a few treatments for toxins produced by botulism and anthrax, but health officials are working to jumpstart production of more countermeasures, with over 80 candidates in advanced development, the Associated Press reports.
The federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority funds late-stage research of promising countermeasures, including GlaxoSmithKline's potential novel antibiotic that might be able to fight bioterrorism germs like plague in addition to hospital-spread bacteria. Scientists are also beginning work on broad-spectrum antivirals that could act as a single injection to treat viruses like the flu and Ebola.
"We feel very excited and confident that what we're working on...can change the whole paradigm of how we approach infectious diseases," Dr. Michael Kurilla, the biodefense research chief at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, according to the AP.
Dr. Thomas Inglesby, the center director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said that gains in research and treatment in bioterrorism may be impacted by the economic crisis, the AP reports. A program called BioShield that buys countermeasures for the stockpile expires in 2013 unless it is reauthorized by Congress. Inglesby said that it is time for the government to spell out both its countermeasure priorities and how to reach them.